The One Little Plant You Should Grow This Year

If you were to walk around my gardens with my kids, you would notice them start to pick leaves and toss them into their mouths.  You might wonder why I am not afraid.  Well, those little kids know that there is one plant that they are allowed to eat whenever they want and they know where to find it.  It is sprinkled throughout the garden so that anytime a soul needs a quick munching pick-me-up, they can grab a leaf or two.  It explodes with freshness, a citrus-undertone that you might not expect from a leaf so green.  Have you guessed what our little plant is yet?

See that brilliant green there?

Do you know what it is?
That is lemon balm and it really does look that fresh and bright when it is growing.

Once plants flower and start to go to seed, they get a little tired and the green deepens...

...but lemon balm will bounce right back 
and reward you with bunches of brilliant green again if you simply give it a haircut.  

Those cuttings can be used in teas (like MY HERBAL TEA) or dried for later use:

You can chop it up into bits to use in SOAP MAKING, for bath salts or as a substitute for lemon in culinary dishes.

There is not much negative to say about Lemon Balm, save its desire to grow and take over the world.  It is a cousin of mint, you know, and it grows in a similar fashion.  Though mint grows wild and untamed, lemon balm sticks to more of a bushy habit.  Beware though, it can spread.  In my gardens, I am happy to give lemon balm a bit of free reign.  It works well as a hedging plant and as a fragrant deterrent to garden pests in the vegetable garden.

To grow lemon balm, buy just one plant and split it into 2-3 smaller divisions.  Allow them to grow all spring and summer, then harvest the leaves before they flower.  In fall, split those 2-3 plants into more if you want to multiply your plants.  Plant immediately and they will come back next spring in most zones.  Right now, my lemon balm still looks like this:

...but that green, green grass back there is a signal something is up and the new life of spring will be coming round the mountain before we even know it.  I can't wait to wander around the garden, grabbing leaves of lemon balm here and there for the explosion of citrus scent and chomp down on the wonder that is the new life of plants.